Every building has a special layer of protective paint, stone or other covering that shields the building from the ravages of exposure to the environment. In the body, this system consists of skin, nails and hair. The skin is the largest organ of the body and the most exposed. It is a supple, elastic tissue that conserves heat and moisture. It is the first organ to respond to pain or touch. Skin also functions as a cooling system and helps to regulate internal body temperature.
The skin consists of three principle layers: the epidermis, the dermis and a layer of fat. On the epidermis, keratin, a protein compound, waterproofs the skin. This outer layer is actually made up of dead cells. It is the first defense against harmful radiation and foreign agents. Keratin is also the principal constituent of hair and nails. The dermis houses the sweat and sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands pour out sebum, a fatty substance, into hair follicles to oil hair and skin. Sweat and sebum are both mildly antiseptic and contribute to the suppleness of skin. This layer contains nerve endings, blood vessels and elastic connective tissue. Normal skin secretes the right amount of natural oil (sebum) to form a thin, well— balanced acid mantle with a pH of 5.5. This holds bacteria growth to a minimum. The subcutaneous tissue, or fat layer, is made up of connective tissue that specializes in the formation of fat. This layer stores energy and also provides protection and insulation.
Hair also forms a protective coating. It has been called the body’s garbage can, since it seems to collect waste by-products such as toxic metals. Hair in the nose and ears trap foreign particles. There are 100,000 strands of hair on the average head. Hair is made up of keratin, and the hair root is the only living part of the hair. Hair is kept in good condition by the secretions of the sebaceous glands.
FACTORS IN SKIN AND HAIR HEALTH
Skin cells absorb the sun’s rays and produce vitamin D. Excessive exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. Another skin problem is psoriasis, a scaly skin condition that affects two out of every 100 people in the Western world. In the United States, approximately seven million people suffer from it. Dermatitis and acne are two other skin disorders.
Provitamin D-3 is present in the oily components of the skin and on its surfaces. Excess amounts of vitamin D are stored in the liver, fatty tissues, lungs, spleen and brain. Contrary to popular belief, the enhancing of vitamin D production under a “sunlamp’’ is not as effective as exposure to natural sunlight. Over-exposure to concentrated ultraviolet ray sources generally result in burns and toxic conditions in the body.
Internal skin care begins with proper nutrition. This includes drinking plenty of pure water, which helps to hydrate skin from the inside out and also helps to flush toxins out of the body. Exercise and rest are also important.
For external skin care, a good daily treatment routine is vital. This can maintain the skin’s current state of health by nourishing and protecting it, as well as by removing oily build-up that accumulates throughout the day.